TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Stresses affecting American mental health are topped by financial concerns, a study by the American Psychological Association said. The organization listed money, inflation, and war between Russia and Ukraine as “piled on” to stress compacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rising prices on everything from gas prices to energy bills and groceries as the top stress, with inflation leading the pack of financial concerns, with “supply chain issues” and “global uncertainty” following it.
“These serious stressors are coming at a time when the nation is still struggling to deal with the strain of the prolonged pandemic. Close to two-thirds of adults (63%) said their life has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.
Additionally the APA survey found, “widespread grief and sense of loss” as well as continued hardships and concern over children’s development during the pandemic is adding extra weight to the burdens parents face in the U.S.” Money stress was chief among concerns too, “registered at the highest recorded level since 2015.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent “unpredictability” of the conflict have only added to the stress level, according to the study.
“The extent to which the conflict may intensify is compounding existing financial stressors that were already on the rise. Soon after Russia began bombing Ukraine, world stock markets wavered. Further, economists predict a surge in energy, wheat, corn, steel, and iron prices,” the study said.
Housing costs were also a contributing stressor for half of all adults in the U.S. Costs are reportedly a bigger “significant source of stress” for those ages 18 to 43, according to the APA.
More so than those 44 or older, the younger adult generations told the APA that housing costs and the economy were significant concerns. While 18 to 25 year olds were mostly stressed about money itself, those those aged 26 to 43 were more concerned about housing than any other group surveyed.
“Living through historic threats like these often has a lasting, traumatic impact on generations,” Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer said. “As a society, it’s important that we ensure access to evidence-based treatments and that we provide help to everyone who needs it. This means not only connecting those in distress with effective and efficient clinical care, but also mitigating risk for those more likely to experience challenges and engaging in prevention for those who are relatively healthy.”
The APA found coping mechanisms for the variety of stresses, made more acute during the pandemic, had become increasingly problematic as COVID-19 remained a concern.
“APA’s first pandemic anniversary survey, found COVID-19-related stress was associated with unhealthy weight gains and increased drinking,” the APA reported. “These unhealthy behaviors have persisted through the second year of the pandemic, suggesting that coping mechanisms have become entrenched—and mental and physical health is on a continuing decline for many as a result.”
The APA survey found that most Americans are no longer afraid of getting COVID-19, but pandemic habits and the pandemic itself remain a high source of anxiety.
“Though the majority of U.S. adults (72%) agreed that they are not as scared about getting COVID-19 as they were in the beginning of the pandemic, close to three in five (58%) agreed the pandemic overall is a daily stressor,” the APA reported. Not only are Americans grieving lost loved ones, they are grieving “the experiences and time they can’t get back.” The APA said U.S. adults “feel it is impossible to make plans because of the unpredictability of the pandemic.”
With multiple COVID-19 variants, mixed policies on lockdowns, masking, and vaccination requirements, and different approaches to addressing the pandemic across the U.S., the “emotional impacts of the restrictions and lockdowns are clear,” the APA said. Nearly two-thirds of Americans reported feeling that the pandemic has “stolen major life moments” from them, that they will not get back.
The APA said that has left the country’s overall level of optimism “waning,” especially with the announcement of each new COVID-19 variant making them wonder if the “pandemic will ever end.”